10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods To Your Kid’s Diet

10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods To Your Kid’s Diet

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

Whether your family are vegetarians, vegans, pegans or full-fledged meat eaters, getting more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development.

Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation.

Recent studies show plant-based diets are also linked with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

When you have picky eaters however, getting them to eat more vegetables, plant-based proteins and different types of grains can seem impossible.

With a few tips and tricks however, you can add more plant-based foods to your kid’s diet. Here are 10.

1. Start small

If your kids already don’t love beans, you’re probably not going to get them to eat black-bean soup, no matter how different it may look.   

Instead, start out by introducing small—even minuscule—amounts like a teaspoon of peas they can munch on before dinner when they’re most likely to be hungry.


2. Blend it up


Every morning, I make this really easy smoothie for my kids and I in my Vitamix: one cup of almond milk, 2 cups of spinach, 2 stalks of celery, one banana, and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

I like green smoothies for kids, not as a way to sneak vegetables, but to get a bunch of vegetables and other plant-based foods into one meal.

Making smoothies with your kids is also a great way to teach them about healthy eating. When kids pick what goes into smoothies and have a hand in making it, they feel empowered and excited to try what they made.

 

3. Take advantage of snack time


Kids love their snacks but most kids snack up to three times a day on foods like chips, cookies and other junk food, which nets a whopping 600 calories, a March 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs found.

If snack time is when your kid is hungry and most likely to eat, use it as an opportunity to get more plant-based foods into his diet.

Serve cut veggies with a bean dip or hummus, fruit with a nut butter, chia seed pudding, a muffin with almond flour and flaxseeds, or homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds and raisins.

 

 

4. Put fruits and vegetables in plain sight


Kids will eat what’s visible and accessible so keep healthy options front and center.

Keep a fruit bowl filled with easy options like bananas, apples and pears.

Also, when you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut up fruits and veggie and store them in glass containers in the refrigerator. Most grocery stores also have grab and go containers of fruits and vegetables that are already washed and cut up, making healthy eating a no-brainer.

 

 

5. Serve frozen fruit for dessert

 

Frozen fruit is a great way to get more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet and it may pack more nutrition than fresh. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Serve frozen fruit straight out of the package for snack time or add it to smoothies, yogurt parfaits or overnight oats. You can also blend it up with some almond or coconut milk for a delicious dessert.


6. Re-think recipes


When you do your meal planning, think about ways to swap meat for plant-based foods. Try zoodles, bean burgers, veggie burgers, black bean soup, vegetarian chili, or an egg “fried” rice with edamame.

 

 

7. Try new whole-grains


Most kids will eat pasta and rice but those with whole grains are the best. Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Some whole grains like quinoa, (a seed), provides both protein and fiber.

Make meals interesting by switching up the grains you serve. Instead of brown rice, experiment with new types like farro, teff and millet.


8. Make “fries” and “chips”


There are so many ways to transform plant-based foods into foods kids already love like fries and chips.
Carrots can be sliced thin and roasted in the oven. Check out this recipe for carrot chips on Weelicious.

Or try kale chips, jicama and parsnip “fries,” or roasted chickpeas.


9. Make a vegetable hash

 

 

Kids may not eat leftover vegetables for breakfast but if they like hash browns, try substituting grated veggies like squash, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes or parsnips into a hash and serve them with eggs.

 

 

10. Think finger foods

 

Kids love finger foods and when you serve plant-based foods, there are plenty of options.

Offer small pieces of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, edamame, small cubes of tofu or tempeh, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

How I Got My Kids To Eat Everything

How I Got My Kids To Eat Everything

When I tell people that my kids devour salads, love lentils, and ask for anchovies, they’re shocked.

During the holidays, at family parties and get-togethers with friends, when other parents are worrying what their kids will eat—and if they’ll eat—my husband and I never give it a second thought.

Our kids not only eat just like we do, but they’re little foodies who crave healthy food.

What may surprise you is that we don’t bribe them with dessert, negotiate meals or force them to eat.

They’re not easygoing kids who go with the flow either—it’s actually quite the contrary.

While it’s true that most kids, especially toddlers, are picky eaters, and they have their own food preferences and food aversions, it’s totally possible to raise kids who like to eat healthy.

Here’s how we did it and you can too.

Make homemade baby food

It’s rare that we ask my daughters if they want to try new foods. Rather, they have a natural curiosity and interest in doing so.

One of the reasons I think that’s the case is because I made homemade baby food for them.

Although store-bought baby food is easy and convenient especially when you’re on the go, we can’t expect our kids to prefer real food if we start out by feeding them food that looks and  smells anything but.

When you make your own baby food, you control the ingredients and can offer a wide variety of flavors and textures which helps kids develop their own preference for healthy foods. 

Stick with it

Parents often tell me how they’ve tried cooking with their kids, serving new vegetables, or making green smoothies, but nothing they did changed their kids’ picky eating habits.

Although there were definitely occasions where we’d offer a new food and my kids were willing to try it immediately, getting them to eat everything took a concerted effort at every meal, every day.

As parents, we always want a quick, easy fix, but a one-time effort isn’t going to transform your kids into foodies overnight.

Whether it’s potty training, getting your kids to sleep through the night or changing an annoying behavior, everything takes time, effort and consistency.

Keep meals interesting

I’ve found that eating the same foods every day has been key for me to lose the baby weight and maintain it.

Although this also makes meal planning easier for my family, I often fell into the same pattern with my kids and I realized there were so many more foods they could try.

So I decided to switch it up a bit.

When I’d bring my kids to the grocery store and they’d spot dragon fruit, star fruit or something they had never tried before, I’d buy it for us all to enjoy at home.

My husband, who also sensed our food rut, would cook new types of fish and vegetables and add new types of spices to our meals.

Although we never forced our kids to eat, we always encouraged them to have a taste of what was being served so they’d have opportunities to figure out which foods they liked and which ones they didn’t.

Cook meals together

Cooking with my kids has proven to be one of the best ways to get them to eat healthy.

Kids want to be just like their parents and my daughters were always excited to learn how to peel and chop produce, mix ingredients, stir on the stovetop and use the oven.

When kids help to prepare meals, they feel empowered and proud and are more likely to eat what’s being served.

Forget the kids’ table

When we had dinner with our extended family, were invited to a friend’s house, or attended a party or celebration, my kids always ate with the adults, unless of course, the host had a kids’ table set up for them.

I never brought a separate meal for them and we didn’t ask the host to prepare something different. They could eat what was served—or not—but that was the only option.

Don’t order off the kids’ menu

Most kids’ menus at restaurants are all the same: hot dogs, chicken fingers, burgers and fries.

It’s rare that you’ll find salads, green leafy vegetables or roasted salmon, for example.

When we went out to eat, we’d usually order an entree my daughters could split, modify an item such as adding broccoli to pizza, or order appetizers and salads we all could share.

[VIDEO] 6 Crazy Easy Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy

[VIDEO] 6 Crazy Easy Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy

All parents want their kids to eat healthy, but when it comes to actually making it happen, most are left feeling frustrated, stressed out and exhausted.

Perhaps you’ve tried to make vegetables into fun shapes or works of art.

Or you’ve pureed and snuck them into meals.

I bet you’ve also begged, bribed and negotiated with your kids but all of your efforts fell flat.

Although it can be really frustrating to get your kids to even take a bite, it actually doesn’t have to be.

Here are 6 crazy easy ways to get your kids to eat healthy.

Short on time? Watch my video where I give you my 3 top tips.

 

1. Start early


If you have an infant, making homemade baby food and exposing him to a wide variety of flavors and textures is an almost sure-fire way to get him to enjoy eating healthy now and throughout his life.

In fact, studies show that children like and consume foods that are familiar to them and the earlier and more foods they’re exposed to, the healthier their diets will be.

I’m convinced that’s one of the reasons my kids eat foods like lentils and broccoli today because I served them up regularly from the moment they started solids.

 

 

 

 

2. Give kids choices


Whether it’s a toy, a favorite pair of shoes, or which apps they’re allowed to use, kids love choices and food is no different.

Food choices make kids feel empowered and in control—even when you’re the one calling the shots and deciding which foods to buy and when to serve them.

I’d argue that it’s the lack of choices at meals that makes them such a big power struggle with our kids.

While I’m not suggesting you let your kid decide what he’ll eat for dinner, you can give him plenty of opportunities to make choices you both can live with.

For example, offer broccoli and cabbage and let him pick one or both. Or put out a few types of vegetables for him to choose from and do a make your own pasta or taco night.

 

 

3. Go shopping together

 

 

Another way to give kids choices is to bring them to the grocery store or the farmer’s market and let them pick out a new vegetable they’d like to try.

When you come back home, wash, prepare and cook it together.

They’ll be more like to eat (or at least try) what’s being served because they had a say and a hand in making it.

 

 

 

4. Get cool gear

 

Teaching your kids how to cook is an easy way to get your kids to eat healthy.

According to a November 2014 review in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, kids who cooked at home or took cooking classes consumed more fiber-rich foods and fruits and vegetables, were more willing to try new foods, and had an increased confidence in their ability to prepare meals.

What’s more, a May 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  found young adults who had cooking skills and felt confident in the kitchen were more likely to be healthy eaters. 

One of the best ways to make cooking with your kids fun is to get some cool gear.

Whether it’s a kid’s personalized apron, a chopping board and safe, kid-friendly knives, or a cool chef’s set, your kids will get excited about cooking.

 

 

 

5. Make smoothies or juices


I don’t advocate for hiding vegetables in meals, but making green smoothies or juices is a great way to get several servings of fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet and because they’re green, it’s a non-sneaky way to get your kids to eat healthy.

Even better—let your kid choose the types of green vegetables and fruits and let them help you blend it up.

 

 

 

6. Keep it small

 

 

When you were a kid, how likely were you to sit down to an entire plate of asparagus—or worse—Brussels sprouts and eagerly eat it up?

I didn’t think so.

Although it’s true that kids don’t eat enough vegetables, it’s unrealistic to expect kids, especially toddlers, to eat an entire portion of a new food, or a food they’ve previously shunned.

Kids need to have the freedom to smell, taste and explore foods without feeling pressured so serve a teaspoon of broccoli florets or a few baby carrots, for example.

Stay consistent and continue to serve small portions at every meal, every day, and eventually your kids may surprise you.

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Cooking Can Save Your Kid’s Life

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Cooking Can Save Your Kid’s Life

When it comes to cooking healthy, homemade meals, most people aren’t on board.

They either don’t like to cook, or think cooking is too difficult, too time consuming or isn’t worth the effort especially after factoring in work, kids’ after-school activities and sports, and everything else that has to get done each day.

In fact, according to data collected by Eddie Yoon, a researcher and consultant for the consumer packaged goods industry, a whopping 45 percent of people hate to cook and 35 are lukewarm about it.

Our dislike for cooking however, is surprising considered the surge in meal kit subscriptions, food delivery apps, restaurants who offer on-the-go ordering, the popularity of cooking shows and Tasty-style videos and the rise of cookbook sales in 2018.

Despite our near-obsession with food and cooking, Americans still spend more money eating out than they do on groceries.

Dining out and ordering in may be quicker, easier, and tastier, but the reality is that doing so is slowly killing our kids.

Not only are we facing a childhood obesity epidemic and more kids than ever are being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, but studies show our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than older generations.

Fat or skinny however, all kids are at risk.

According to a May 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics, 37 percent of kids who have a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar.

One of the reasons kids are sicker than ever is because they’re not given enough opportunities to learn how to cook and actually see what a healthy meal looks like.

The truth is that cooking can save your kid’s life. Here are 6 reasons why. 

Short on time? Check out my video.

1. Cooking makes kids healthier—physically and mentally

Studies show kids who consistently eat meals with their families are healthier kids overall.

In fact, according to a February 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, kids who share family meals together have higher fitness levels, drink less sugary soft drinks, and seem to have better social skills.

Studies also show that kids who eat with their families are less likely to have an eating disorder or become obese and family meals are linked to lower rates of depression, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, better grades and higher levels of self-esteem.

Conversations had around the table may even improve a child’s vocabulary and help them become more resilient.

2. Cooking puts an end to picky eating

If your kid is a picky eater, eating out may seem like an easy solution especially if the restaurant you’re dining in has a kid’s menu.

But feeding kids what they want instead of what they need only reinforces the picky eating pattern.

We tell ourselves (and others), “my kid will only eat X,Y, and Z,” or “there’s no way my kid will eat that,” and that’s exactly what ends up happening.

Dinner may not always be peaceful but when your kids eat a homemade meal and there are no other options, it’s one of the best ways to get them out of their picky eating behaviors.

The more opportunities kids have to enjoy healthy meals and the only choice is what’s being served, they’re more likely to at least try it.

3. Cooking shows kids what real food looks like

Instead of eating out where French fries is the side dish, meals aren’t served with vegetables and everything is smothered in cheese or a sauce, cooking at home gives kids plenty of opportunities to learn what real, fresh food and healthy, balanced meals actually look like.

Cooking means meals are healthier and portions are smaller

A December 2016 study in Nutrition Today found most items on kid’s menus at the top 200 restaurant chains in the U.S. contained 147 more calories than what experts recommend.

When you eat out with your kids, you could avoid the kids menu and instead order a salad and a healthy appetizer, for example.

But since most restaurant meals are 2 to 3 times larger than what they should be, chances are the portions will still be too large. What’s more, most restaurant meals are high in calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. 

Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients, the cooking method and the portion sizes.

4. Cooking strengthens family bonds

Life gets hectic when you have kids and families don’t spend nearly as much time as they’d like.

In fact, a March 2018 study commissioned by Visit Anaheim found Americans spend just 37 minutes of “quality” time together during the week.

The more time you spend together around the dinner table, the more opportunities there are to share stories, resolve conflict, share positive moments from your day and strengthen family bonds.

5. Cooking prepares kids for real life

You may not like to cook, but cooking is a life skill your kids will need, just like doing laundry and cleaning a home.

Sure, you can hire someone to do just about any errand or chore, but if you want to raise kids who are self-sufficient and not lean on mom or dad for everything, teaching them how to cook is key.

Teaching kids basic cooking skills like how to measure ingredients, chop vegetables, use appliances and follow a recipe, are skills that will carry them through life and ensure they’ll put their health first.

6. Cooking keeps kids with food allergies safe

If you have a child with food allergies, you know that going out to eat—or eating anywhere other than your home—is seriously nerve-wracking.

Although you’ll tell your server about your kid’s food allergies, ask the kitchen to use a clean pan and urge them to avoid cross contamination, anything can happen and unfortunately, you can’t put the onus on the restaurant.

When you cook at home, you don’t have to worry about food allergies, and you know your kid will be safe.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

Before I got married and had kids, food and nutrition weren’t nearly as much of a focus in my life as they are now.

As a single woman living alone, I relied on quick and easy meals like scrambled eggs or pasta and broccoli.

If I cooked, it would have been something like a piece of pan-seared salmon but snack foods like hummus, crackers and cheese sticks for dinner were just as good—seriously!

Of course, Chinese take-out was always an easy option too.

When I met my husband however, I became more interested and inspired to cook healthy, delicious meals.

Since he works in the restaurant business and even worked as personal chef, he taught me how to use a knife and cutting board, how to roast a whole chicken and how to prepare a real meal from scratch.

Although cooking techniques like blanching still throw me off and I’m not all that adventurous with herbs and spices, I can hold my own in the kitchen today.

Of course, having kids has also been a driving force behind my motivation to cook. Between making homemade baby food, preparing their school lunches and cooking dinner almost every night, I’m always in the kitchen.

But let’s be honest: cooking takes time—time I don’t always have.

So over the years, I’ve found some amazing kitchen gadgets that have helped make meal prep easier, helped me pull together meals faster, and saved my sanity.

Here are 5 kitchen gadgets I can’t live without.

1. Vitamix

I recently received the Vitamix as a Christmas present from my husband and after getting over the initial sticker shock, I was hooked.

Unlike the small blender I was using, I love that you can put several types of vegetables for a smoothie in the Vitamix and it blends up everything into a super-smooth consistency, much like a juicer, but the fiber is still there.

The other great thing about the Vitamix is that it isn’t just for smoothies. You can use it to make homemade nut butters, dips and spreads, soups, frozen desserts, flours and dough and non-dairy milk.

2. Solid Wood Chopping Bowl

This solid wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna knife is hands down, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets and a tool I use every day.

There’s nothing more delicious than a chopped salad and with this bowl, you don’t have to drop $10 at your favorite lunch spot to get it. I simply add salad greens, onions, carrots and avocado and chop everything up in the bowl. I add dressing and a protein and lunch is ready in minutes.

If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, it’s also a great tool to get them in the kitchen to prepare—and get excited about—healthy meals too.

3. Pampered Chef Pan

Pampered Chef is known for their stoneware and for good reason.

I use this Pampered Chef pan most days of the week to roast vegetables and make sweet potato fries, and meatballs. Everything you make with the pan is evenly cooked, crispy on the outside but moist on the inside and bursting with flavor.

It’s also a breeze to clean and doesn’t require any soaking or scrubbing.

4. Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner


If there’s one kitchen gadget that ensures you’ll always have a quick and easy meal on hand, it’s the Oxo good grips salad spinner.

It’s a totally old-school kitchen gadget but it’s a must-have to wash salad quickly and keep it fresh all week long.

5. Cuisinart Stand Mixer

Another classic tool, the Cuisinart Stand Mixer is a kitchen gadget I’ve had since I got married and it’s become quite useful throughout the years.

If you love baking as much as I do, the mixer is a must-have.

Although it’s not in my regular daily rotation, it’s come in handy for making breads, my nana’s famous Christmas cheesecake and my kids’ birthday cakes.

What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets? Leave me a comment!